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Water Shortage Continues in Seattle, Fines Start for Excess Lawn Watering

September 18, 1987

SEATTLE (AP) _ Residents who violate city controls on outdoor watering can be fined $50 starting Friday.

During the summer, the city water department asked its 1.1 million customers to restrict outdoor watering to once every three days. Each household’s turn to water is based on the last two numbers of its address.

On Thursday, the water department also asked for voluntary indoor water conservation, including short showers, small baths and full loads of dishes and laundry.

Rainfall is the lowest in 68 years as measured at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, and reservoirs are at 40 percent of normal and still receding.

Seattle residents who receive a second warning about violating outdoor watering limits will be fined $50 under an emergency ordinance signed this week by Mayor Charles Royer.

The system serves 525,000 customers in Seattle and 675,000 customers outside city limits. Suburban residents have been asked to conserve, but no fines have been imposed on them.

Seattle residents can be fined if they repeatedly water on an unassigned day or for more than two hours a week, use so much water that it runs down the street, water without a nozzle or sprinkler, wash cars without a bucket and a hose with a nozzle, operate a fountain, or wash streets or sidewalks, except for health reasons.

Portland, Ore., and Tacoma, as well as many smaller water districts, also face shortages, said Bob Groncznack, the city’s water superintendent.

If the rains don’t start soon, the water department will start pumping its Highline Well Field several weeks ahead of schedule, beginning in mid-October.

If there’s still no rain, the department will rent pumps at $100,000 to $125,000 a day to drain Chester Morse Lake upstream on the Cedar River, the city’s main water source. The lake contains enough water to last six to eight weeks in an emergency, lasting until December and early January.

After that, there are no plans.

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